Marouane Fellaini spared last night’s 0-0 from becoming the least memorable Manchester derby of all time in the crudest way possible – injecting some much-needed controversy and excitement into an otherwise lifeless affair by headbutting Sergio Aguero in the 84th minute.
The consequence was a red card and an uncomfortable final period for Manchester United, who counted their blessings when substitute Gabriel Jesus had a goal correctly ruled out for offside. Fellaini will now miss three huge fixtures that will likely decide whether the Red Devils finish inside the top four, and will inevitably draw criticism for his inability to keep a cool head in a big game.
Jose Mourinho appeared particularly disappointed as Fellaini walked past him and towards the tunnel, but what will infuriate the Portuguese and United fans most is that the Belgian battering ram was arguably the Red Devils’ best player against City before his abrupt dismissal.
Indeed, Fellaini actually finished the match with the most chances created and most aerial duels won and of any Red Devils player, as well as the second-most passes, touches, dribbles and tackles in an impressive all-round display from the central midfielder.
Fellaini has proved himself to be a useful asset to Mourinho during his debut campaign at Old Trafford, befitting the gaffer’s pragmatic philosophy. But the 29-year-old is yet to truly win over the United fan base and last night’s sending off will have done little to help his cause.